Located at over 1,100 meters altitude in the Bârgău Mountains (Eastern Carpathians), where Transylvania meets Bukovina, Tihuța Pass is currently one of the most important tourist attractions in Bistrița Năsăud county, gaining world recognition after it was depicted in the opening chapter of Bram Stoker’s Dracula as the famous ‘Borgo Pass’.
The pass was the gateway to the realm of Count Dracula. However, Stoker most likely found the name on a contemporary map, as he had never actually visited the area.
There is a realm that Stoker’s fictional heroine Mina Harker described in her diary as “a lovely county; full of beauties of all imaginable kinds, and the people are brave, and strong, and simple, and seem full of nice qualities.”
The Bârgău Valley embracing the pass indeed encompasses some of the most exquisite unspoiled mountain scenery in the Carpathians, revealing picturesque traditional villages peering up the hillsides. All in all, the surroundings are ideal premises for hiking, riding or discovering the region’s old customs, handicrafts and folklore.
Today the pass is home to Hotel “Castel Dracula”. The hotel was built in 1974 and is located at the altitude of 1,116 m (3,661 ft). The hotel has become a veritable attraction due to its architectural medieval villa-type style, as well as due to the impressive beauty of the location.
At the beginning of the 1970’s, the head of Bistrița county’s tourism industry at that time, Alexandru Misiuga, after having read “Dracula” realized how much the book’s description fit the on-site reality and had the idea to build a castle-shaped hotel right in Tihuța Pass.
The building was erected between 1976-1983, respecting the style of medieval castles, sporting a tower and an interior courtyard, while becoming nowadays a true magnet for tourists on Halloween.
Above all, the entire area was powered by the pass’ celebrity and by the virgin artistry of the scenery. Dozens of cabins and hostels have developed, as well as a ski slope, turning the scenic landscapes into a tourist destination both in the summer and the winter.
While in the neighborhood in September, tourists can attend the Garlic Festival, which is rejoining gastronomic competitions, traditional music and dance, athletic events, concerts and games.